In an effort to combat bullying, Scotland is implementing a school database that includes information about students’ sexuality, personal opinions and even their family’s wealth, the Scottish Daily Mail reports.
“Intimate details of pupils’ private lives are being shared among teachers in the latest Big Brother storm to hit Scottish schools,” the Mail said.
The database prompted Stuart Waiton of the Abertay University in Dundee to warn of the focus by “Big Brother” on “the minutiae of pupils’ private lives.”
The move “only encourages teachers to behave as quasi-social workers or therapists,” he said. “They would be far better off focusing on the job of educating students rather than acting as Big Brother in the classroom.”
The Mail said the program to profile students is being tested at Wallace High School in Stirling as part of the national government’s anti-bullying campaign.
“Ministers believe pupils’ personal information will help teachers decide whether a child is more likely to be a bully – or a victim,” the Mail said.
“Pastoral notes” on students are edited into “mini data packages” that are given to teachers.
Alison Preuss of the Scottish Home Education Forum called the process “petty statism” and warned it will prevent teachers from developing good relationships with students.
Labeling children as victims or bullies and “digitally sharing” those assumptions “helps nobody,” she said in the report.
“What business is it of schools how much money a child’s parents earn or who a teenager is attracted to?”
To the Mail, Wallace headmaster Scott Pennock defended the spy program.
“At a glance, staff can get a sense of the composition of the class in front of them. The system will flag up any pastoral notes so teachers can see that this young person’s maybe got a family situation or concerns around a bullying issue.”
Big Brother Watch group spokesman Griff Ferris warned of the dangers of “profiling” students based on actions that could be “mistakes.”
The Christian Institute, which fought the Scottish government’s plans for a “Named Person” to be assigned to every student in school, disapproved of the idea.
The “Named Person” scheme, which was struck down by the U.K. Supreme Court, would have assigned a teacher, faculty member or even social worker to each student with the authority to investigate what the child was doing, even to the point of ordering lifestyle changes that could override the parents’ wishes.
The organization noted, “In 2014 the Scottish government attempted to bring in Named Person legislation which would have assigned a state guardian to every child in Scotland.
“The law required the named person to record and share confidential information concerning the wellbeing of children.”
The U.K. Supreme Court struck it down, saying the data-sharing provisions breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.